The places in the book are the Adelaide CBD, Bowden and Adelaide’s suburban beaches. They are places in the sense that memory is formed in and by place through experiential interactions and in turn, place triggers personal and collective memory
Certainly my memories of these places are being triggered by the specific photographs that I have been selecting from my 1980s and 1990s archives. Many of my memories from this period have long been forgotten. They are slowly returning as I reconstruct this period through photos and research material about the process of de-industrialization in South Australia.
This de-industrialization process, which continues into 2017 with General Motors Holden (GMH) closing its car manufacturing plant at Elizabeth, can be viewed as traumatic for the blue-collar working class losing their jobs. This contraction of manufacturing signifies the end of the industrial era in which manufacturing was a key driver of the South Australian and the city of Adelaide’s prosperity since 1945. The working class is being evicted from the main streets of the middle class.
The research that I have done indicates that we now talk about the old industrial economies. Many economists view de-industrialization as a natural consequence of the process of economic development of already highly developed economy, similar to the long-term decline in the share of agriculture employment. This view holds that as time goes on and economies become more economically advanced, the numbers of people engaged in agriculture tend to decline relative to the numbers in manufacture, which in their turn decline relative to the numbers engaged in services. The basic reason for this loss of manufacturing jobs in Australia, its is argued, is because of the gains in productivity. So the benefits of de-industrialization outweigh the costs. Therefore, de-industrialization is a positive, not a negative, process.
In assembling the research material I can see that the 1980s were significant decade in Australia, a turning point. This was when the neo-liberal regime (or mode of governance) emerged in Australia with the Hawke-Keating Government. In the late 1980s onwards, this regime relied on debt and asset price inflation to drive demand in place of wage growth linked to productivity growth; whilst its model of engagement with the global economy created a triple economic hemorrhage of spending on cheap imports, manufacturing job losses, and off-shoring of investment.
The research indicates that as a political project a neo-liberal regime aims to roll back the welfare state to create a greater space for a liberal market economy; shift the emphasis to innovation and competition rather than employment and planning; dismantle the welfare state to get people from welfare to work; create enterprising subjects who will not burden the state; and overturn a culture of dependancy. Cities are seen as engines of growth in a knowledge-driven economy, and with the importance of an information society, cities are seen as important drivers for innovation and competitiveness.
This research indicates that Adelaide, as a declining city, must take its neo-liberal medicine. Its future is one of growing inequality and polarisation, social exclusion, plus the promise of future trickle down benefits fro the liberated market forces.